Ontario has eye on MMA, Criminal Code no longer a stumbling block

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TORONTO While there is no formal review underway, Ontario is looking at the issue of mixed martial arts.

And it appears one major obstacle the Criminal Code raised in the past by Ken Hayashi, chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission, is no longer a stumbling block.

Unlike such provinces as Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, where boxing commissions have brought the sport under their umbrella, MMA is not sanctioned in Ontario. The UFC, however, has said Ontario is its next target for regulatory approval after New York and Massachusetts.

While there is no movement yet from Ontario, a spokesman said MMA is on the radar for the provincial government.

Were certainly aware of the sport and of the issue, and particularly its growing popularity, Sarbjit Kaur, senior communication adviser to the minister of small business and consumer services, said Tuesday. While we do not have any formal review process in place right now, we are looking at it. No decision has been made yet for or against it.

But its more about looking at things like what other jurisdictions are doing and, of course, safety would definitely be a factor. . . . So its certainly not something that were dead against. Its more of just a still looking at it (approach), trying to assess the entire industry and the sport. Its really too early to say that anything like it would be coming to Ontario or it wont be, but we are aware of it.

Hayashi has explained Ontarios resistance to the growing sport by arguing that staging MMA shows is a Criminal Code offence.

Hayashi refers to Section 83.1 of the Criminal Code which says anyone who engages as a principal in a prize fight, encourages, promotes or is present at a prize fight as an aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer or reporter is guilty of an offence unless the boxing contest is held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province.

The section also allows a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen, where the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass.

A mixed martial event is not a boxing contest, Hayashi said early last year.

Kaur, however, says Section 83 and all of that is not really the crux of it, for us.

Its more of looking at all of it and looking at the safety angle and everything like that. And we do realize it has been sanctioned in some other jurisdictions.

A recent call to Hayashi was ultimately referred to Kaur.

The issue of MMA sanctioning resurfaced recently in Winnipeg after an 18-year-old fighter was hurt in a bout.

Dean Lewis of Fort McMurray, Alta., was taken to hospital after he collapsed after the third round. He had a subdural hematoma, severe concussion, fractured orbital bone and badly broken nose.

Winnipeg councillor Grant Nordman has urged the sport be banned. Lewis, however, does not support such a move.



UFC 97 Card: There will be no shortage of Canadians on the UFC 97 card in Montreal in April, although only one may make it to the main card. Heres a tentative look at the lineup, which is still in the works:

Preliminary Card

Lightweights: (Handsome) Matt Wiman, U.S., versus Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout, London, Ont.

Welterweights: T.J. Grant, Dartmouth, N.S., versus Ryo (Piranha) Chonan, Japan

Lightweights: David Bielkheden, Sweden, versus Mark Bocek, Woodbridge, Ont.

Middleweights: Ed Herman, U.S., versus David (The Crow) Loiseau, Montreal

Middleweights: Nate Quarry, U.S., versus Jason (The Athlete) MacDonald, Red Deer, Alta.

Middleweights: Xavier Foupa-Pokam, France, versus Denis Kang, Vancouver

Main Card

Light-Heavyweights: Luiz Cane, Brazil, versus Steve Cantwell, U.S.

Heavyweights: Antoni Hardonk, U.S., versus Cheick Kongo, France

Light-Heavyweights: Brian Stann, U.S., versus Krzysztof Soszynski, Winnipeg

Light-Heavyweights: Mauricio (Shogun) Rua, Brazil, versus Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell, U.S.

Middleweight title: Thales Leites, Brazil, versus Anderson (The Spider) Silva, Brazil

Bocek, Day, MacDonald and Stout all fought at UFC 83. Other Canadians on that card were Georges St. Pierre, Jason Day, Joe Doerksen, Jonathan Goulet and Kalib Starnes.



Organizations: Ontario Athletic Commission

Geographic location: Ontario, U.S., TORONTO Alberta Quebec Manitoba Nova Scotia New York Massachusetts Winnipeg Brazil Montreal France Fort McMurray London, Ont. Dartmouth Japan Sweden Red Deer Vancouver

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